Mullins gives Douvan's festival backers ray of hope with Champion Chase entry
Willie Mullins has given Douvan’s ante-post backers and jumps enthusiasts in general some unexpected hope by revealing that his brilliant chaser could yet make the Cheltenham Festival in March.
While maintaining it is still unlikely the eight-year-old will be in the line-up for the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase, Mullins will give him in an entry in the hope that he might come right.
Mullins, in his Saturday column for the Racing Post, said: “We’ve been pleasantly surprised by how well things are going with him. It’s a long shot at this stage and getting him back on the track this season might not be a runner, but we are cautiously optimistic now compared with his situation a month ago.”
Douvan, winner of nine of his ten starts over fences, including the Racing Post Arkle in 2016, suffered that one defeat on his latest start when a beaten 2-9 favourite behind Special Tiara in last year’s Champion Chase.
He was expected to reappear in Sandown’s Tingle Creek Chase early last month but was not declared due to a setback, after which he was intermittently lame, leading his trainer to state that, following discussions with owner Rich Ricci, a "conservative approach" would be taken with Douvan and that he would not run again this season.
Altior, who has been on the sidelines himself after a wind operation, is general 5-4 favourite for the Champion Chase. He could have a Festival prep in the Game Spirit next month.
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